Settling into Antwerp
Tonight as I write my first blog entry, it's 9:30 pm, but it's still daylight outside. It's been a long day starting out with a trans-Atlantic trip from Boston to Brussels via Dublin, but we are here at Antwerp at last and it's beautiful here. Prior to landing in Brussles, I kept myself entertained with reading The Diary of Anne Frank and watching episodes of Tabatha's Salon Takeover on my iPod Touch. They are two totally opposite diversions, but helped the flight on Aer Lingus to go faster.
Just below our window at the Hotel Matelote, we spotted a pretty restaurant with a courtyard with tables topped with pails of thyme. After making an inquiry, we learned that this restaurant, Invincible, has won many awards and the barista is the champion barista in Belgium. Although we do not typically dine at fancy restaurants, we decided to celebrate our first night here and we are not disappointed. They have a fixed menu and the choices are amazing. Our appetizers consisted of a tureen of eggplant and smoked mozzarella and a cucumber and onion salad heaped with fresh mussels followed by an entree of codfish on a bed of potatoes, tomatoes and saffron. Our meal ended with fresh strawberry sorbet. aDelicious!
After a four hour nap to help us overcome jet lag before dinner, we walked around the Grote Markt area and had a pre dinner drink in the shadow of the Plantin Moretus Museum which houses the world's oldest printing presses. The man who ran these printing presses was a patron of Peter Paul Rubens. We look forward to visiting thie UNESCO Heritage site tomorrow. The town is alive with small cafes with tiny lit candles in every alley and roaming street musicians who offered cafe patrons the opportunity to try out their instruments. At the cafe we were approached by some young people selling scratch tickets to raise money for drunk driving awareness. For a donation, they allowed some children at the table beside us to roll a dice until it turned up yellow. The children squealed with delight when presented with their prize - bright yellow sunglasses.
During dessert we met some locals and spent some time talking with them about their life growing up and living in Antwerp. It's been a long day, but a great start to our holiday.